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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Greek myth about Orpheus and original Sleeping Beauty story briefly summarized. Some lines of Pablo Neruda poems with translation. Some signs in American Sign Language described. Brief information about the French artist Seurat, pointillism, trompe l'oeil, and other paintings given. Some San Francisco points of interest, including facts about the Legion of Honor art museum, especially its Skinner pipe organ.
Don't romanticize the past; the best time to be alive is right now, especially for women. If you're lucky, your life stays balanced between past and future; don't get caught up spending too much of your energy leaning to one of those sides. Letting go of someone means letting go of the version of yourself that needed that person; that's why it's so hard. The closest thing we have to magic is change (changing yourself, your life), so keep changing.
Positive Role Models
Parker Santé, 17, starts out without ambition and without any real friends. He hangs out in hotel lobbies and steals things people accidentally leave behind and justifies it with sophomoric arguments about how they don't really need their luxury items. Zelda (an older teen) is a great role model for being open to life's possibilities and for taking the trouble to really help others. She helps Parker mature into someone who wants to be better. Parker's mother is a strong, loving presence but is mired in the past and exhibits alcoholic tendencies.
Violence & Scariness
A past incident resulted in Parker having an assault charge on his record when he tried to push back against a bully and mentions a leg run over by a car. Some fantasy violence in fairy tale-type stories include mentions of beatings and beheadings and that in the original Sleeping Beauty story she's raped. A fight describes being punched in the face in some detail. Blood drips from an accident victim. A character plans to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge; teens talk occasionally about suicide. An important character dies.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Older teens kiss, undress, and get in bed together in their underwear. It's mentioned afterward that they had sex, but the sex isn't described. Teens talk about who was their "first." They swim naked; no body parts are described. "Wet dream" is used as an analogy. Joking references to the rhythm method of birth control and masochists. Internet pornography mentioned.
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Frequent use of "s--t," "ass," "f--k," and their variations. A few uses of "d--k" in name-calling and the body part, "bitch" in friendly banter, "goddamn," "butt," and "pinche" (an insult enhancer in Spanish) once each.
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Products & Purchases
Wide variety of TV shows, video games, mall stores, tech products, alcohol brands mentioned to establish character or mood.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
An adult taking Prozac and Tylenol PM mentioned. A joke mentions bong hits and getting high. Teens drink to excess at a party; number of drinks referenced in chapter titles. Zelda provides champagne and expensive Scotch to teen partygoers. A hangover headache is described. An adult exhibits alcoholic behavior. Beer-bonging a 40 mentioned. Brief mention of teens smoking and of adult smoking in the past.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Thanks for the Trouble is a teen romance with a fantasy twist by the author of We All Looked Up. An extended party scene has teens drinking to excess and an older teen providing champagne and expensive Scotch. There's some kissing, undressing, and getting into bed, followed by a mention that sex happened, but no sex is described. Parker's not much a role model at first, lacking in ambition and stealing things from hotel lobbies. Zelda helps open him up to possibilities, encourages his writing talent, and makes him want to be better. Suicide is an important theme, and an important character dies. Positive messages include how to move on from the past and appreciate the present by finding a balance between past, present, and future.
Is It Any Good?
This intriguing romance brings fresh appeal to the boy-meets-girl story with a surprising fantasy twist. The framework of a college-application essay gives author Tommy Wallach (We All Looked Up) the opportunity to ask readers to decide for themselves whether to believe Parker’s story or not. It’s an engaging way to get older teens thinking about applying for college, letting go of the past, what to hope for in the future, and why people are worth taking the trouble to look at beneath the surface.
Narrator Parker is not easy to like at first, but as teens learn more about him, he becomes easy to relate to and root for. His original fairy tales blend the past and present and reinforce our understanding of Parker as a talented writer. Without an ounce of sap, this refreshing, modern, bittersweet love story will appeal to boys and girls alike.
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Our Editors Recommend
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